Mayor tells top goals for 2010

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2009

With 2009 winding down and 2010 in the works, city leaders arelooking to the future, hoping to see a bright horizon.

Brookhaven Mayor Les Bumgarner said as the future becomes thepresent, he’s got several goals he’d like to see come to fruitionduring the upcoming year.

Bumgarner said while his list is not in any particular order,some of the projects are already underway, and some are yet tobegin.

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One that has been in the forefront of public awareness in thelast few years is Brookhaven’s fight to keep the Mississippi Schoolof the Arts on the Whitworth campus. As state lawmakers havebickered over the details of a possible relocation to Columbus, MSAand city officials have taken a defensive stance to try to protectthe school and its place in the community.

Bumgarner said instead, lawmakers should look at bringing theMississippi School of Math and Science south, as MSA’s facility ismuch more geared toward expansion than relocation.

“We want to work with our local and state legislators to notonly keep MSA, but to relocate MSMS to Brookhaven,” he said. “To usthat just makes a lot more sense.”

Beautification projects are also on the table, the mayor said,as bringing green space to the city increases the quality ofliving. The board has resolved to put a park or walking trail inevery ward, and one thing Bumgarner would like to see accomplishedis a walking trail in the Halbert Heights area from Natchez Avenueto the Halbert Heights ditch.

“I think we can get a grant for it, and it could be a reallypretty setup,” he said.

Currently there are recreational areas in four of the six wards,and completion of the one in Halbert Heights would leave only WardFive without a park or trail. It has been hard to find a place forone in Ward Four before now, Bumgarner said.

“Land is so valuable over there that you can’t buy it, but a lotof this is in a flood plain and we already have some right of waythere because of the sewer line,” he said. “There’s a goodpossibility of building something there that won’t cost the citytoo much money.”

Landscaping the city’s three exits of Interstate 55 is also onthe agenda, the mayor said.

“We’re working on some grants to spruce up those threeinterchanges,” he said, adding that the Highway 84 exit would bethe first priority, since work is already under way on BrookwayBoulevard.

Bringing jobs in is another major undertaking, the mayor said,and current negotiations with Rex Lumber Company and Great SouthernWood Preserving to bring a possible total of up to 150 jobs back tothe area is also a top project for city leaders.

A fire loop for the Brignall community is also on the list. Theneighborhood was annexed in 2007, and works off a separate watersystem from the city’s. Not only will the change insure safety forthe Brignall area, Bumgarner said, but it will help the rest of thecity as well.

“This should help our insurance rating,” he said. “The water andsewer project in the Ole Brook area will help that too.”

The project that never ends has made the list again, the mayorsaid. The Godbold Multi-Modal Facility will hopefully be completedby the end of 2010, which Bumgarner said will mark the end of anera that has spanned three mayors.

“That will be the longest ongoing project in the history ofBrookhaven,” he said with a laugh. “But it seems like something’sfinally going to happen on it.”

The list also included the opening of the Jimmy Furlow SeniorCitizens Center, which is projected to take place just after thefirst of the year. Paving, including the striping and overlay ofBrookway Boulevard, was also a priority, as was installingbathrooms in Bicentennial and Bethel parks.

Bumgarner said the city will also work to find grants forsidewalk projects, and will be doing anything possible to helpretain the Mississippi Adolescent Center at its current location inBrookhaven.

The mayor said that in spite of economy issues, the city willcharge ahead. He said he believes there are good things on thehorizon.

“I feel like 2009 went well, but 2010 is going to be evenbetter,” Bumgarner said.